Heitman remains active following retirement

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Healthy living advocate Nancy Heitman of Guttenberg grew up with horses and continues to ride and care for them. (Photo submited)

By Caroline Rosacker

Healthy lifestyles are a common discussion on social media and television, and in newsprint, magazines and self-help literature. Every day a new diet, workout regime or supplement plan boasts the key to longevity. While most exercise fads and hot diets aren’t sustainable, they do indicate the role good health plays in a well-balanced life. 

A healthy lifestyle and a deep faith in God have sustained Nancy Heitman of Guttenberg during her demanding work career as a Registered Nurse through to retirement. "Good health isn’t just reserved for your younger years, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle through your retirement," says Heitman. 

Heitman grew up in Sycamore, Ill., on a dairy farm and has been fully retired from a paying job for four years. She began her post-secondary education pursuing a theology major. "I really thought I had a calling to
 become a Methodist minister. Events that happened in my life steered me away from that towards a career in nursing," she explained. 

The career nurse added to her RN BSN degree to become a parish nurse. "Because of my faith in God and my desire to help others (I was a hands-on person back then) I attended extra classes to become a parish nurse and then went on for clinical pastoral education, which enhanced the hospital aspect of the parish nurse program." 

Heitman, who recently retired as St. John's Lutheran Church parish nurse, shared her philosophy. She said,  "Our bodies are a gift from God. It is up to us to take care of them and also maintain a spiritual connection with God. Total body wellness. I think it is important to discover your personal relationship with God through community with your church, your family or your friends. We need to provide support for each other and grow in faith and our lives through healthy choices. It all works together."

Active lifestyle

Fitness has remained a top priority for Heitman. "I have always been physically active. Walking and hiking has always been a part of my life," she commented. "Growing up on a dairy farm I struggled with body image and was bullied as a child. I have been on restrictive diets, but now I eat a little bit of everything in moderation."

Nancy, and her husband, Harold, can be seen trekking up the hill heading south out of town along Highway 52, and riding bikes on the challenging hills heading north on the Great River Road on the bike lane, sporting florescent vests for greater visibility. "There is always a lot of work to be done on our property which keeps us busy. We ride bikes and make an annual trip to Pikes Peak!" she said with a smile. "Harold and I hiked Yellowstone – challenging a different peak every day!" 


Heitman grew up with horses and continues to ride and care for them. "I grew up with horses. When I went to college my dad sold the farm and I had to sell the horse. It was very difficult for me," she remembered. "I had a 30-year lapse and then Harold bought me a horse. We have raised four foals. We do chores together, and I have really learned more about taking care of them physically with massage therapy."

The life-long learner went on to say, "I am going to a clinic on Friday and taking one of my horses in an effort to teach him how to use their body more efficiently, and to move correctly to handle my weight on difficult terrain during trail rides." 

Avid gardener 

Heitman is looking forward to the upcoming gardening season. "Next week I will start my seeds under a grow light. I start both vegetables and flowers both from seeds," she excitedly shared. 

In addition, Heitman enjoys volunteering. "I was more active as a volunteer in the past, but continue as a Stephen's Minister and help out at St. John's Mobile Food Pantry each month," she listed. 

"We eat healthy all the time everyday. I think it is important for people to start taking care of themselves right away – don’t wait!"

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